A lot of very serious people have a problem even defining what sustainability really is. Some see sustainability as simply another marketing program designed to engender goodwill from the stakeholders. Unfortunately, this may create a hindrance for those tasked with supporting sustainability because your more cynical stakeholders may question the sincerity of anything that you propose.
A better strategy for answering questions like these is to treat sustainability just like any other business capability. We at the ebTDesign Forum suggest that you and your peers think of sustainability as the capability of actively managing strategic uncertainty. As you know, capabilities are methodologies or procedures for consistently handling a given strategic process like manufacturing or distribution.
What this means is that lower level managers and stakeholders won’t have to deal with making high level mitigation decisions. These kinds of strategic decisions are better left to senior management because of the timeframes of the commitments that must be made. Middle management is often too risk adverse to protect the enterprise from the kind of strategic uncertainty that sustainability must mitigate.